The Armor of God

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Ephesians 6:10-18

  1. Rome was the mighty governing power in the days the New Testament was written.
    1. Its strength was in its military, which constantly was on guard
    2. Josephus, a Jewish historian, observed that Roman soldiers always carried their weapons with them, even in times of peace. “Every soldier is every day exercised, and that with diligence, as if it were in a time of war, which is the reason why they bear the fatigues of battle so easily.” [The Wars of the Jews, III.5.1]
    3. Yet mighty Rome fell, in a great part due to herself.
      1. “The relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of service.” [Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3, p. 271]
      2. It spread itself thin and so used hired mercenaries to fill its ranks, but these men did not have the same discipline as the old guard.
      3. In addition, the emperors knew that their position was upheld by the army, so they began to pamper the legions. When complaints came about the armor and weapons being too heavy, they were allowed to make do with less and lighter armor.
      4. “The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns, and the Alani had felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armor – they easily overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed, without defense, to the arrows of the barbarians.” [Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3, p. 271].
  2. Paul brings his letter to the Ephesians to a conclusion by reminding the Ephesians that they are at war - Ephesians 6:10-12
    1. It is not a physical war, but a spiritual battle. It cannot be won by hit-and-miss tactics. It requires endurance.
      1. Be strong in the Lord - Joshua 1:6-9
      2. Battles are not won through fears.
      3. Wage the good warfare - I Timothy 1:18
      4. Endure the hardships - II Timothy 2:3-4
    2. But wars require that those fighting must be prepared. We have to have our armor on.
      1. Without it, we can stand firm against Satan’s schemes.
      2. Satan doesn’t fight fair. He doesn’t wait for a convenient time to attack.
        1. He looks for openings when we are least ready and least prepared.
        2. Forgiveness is important because we have to present a united front - II Corinthians 2:10-11
        3. Distracted by fancifulness - II Corinthians 11:3-4
        4. Deceived - II Corinthians 11:13-15
    3. We have to be ready to stand firm
  3. Our armor - Ephesians 6:14-17
    1. Girded with Truth
      1. The girdle or belt of a soldier was not decoration, it is what bound the various pieces together against the body
        1. In that culture, people wore long loose-fitting robes, but such hindered movement.
        2. So the bottoms were pulled up and held in place by the girdle, thus forming shorts.
        3. It also held the breastplate against the body, thus taking much of the weight of the armor off the shoulders to put it on the hips, allowing the arms to swing more freely.
        4. It also was used to carry the soldier’s weapons, so they would be close at hand.
      2. It is the truth that is the foundation of our armor and where Satan seeks to attack - II Thessalonians 2:9-12
        1. Imagine weakening your opponent by first convincing him that he doesn’t need the core of armor
      3. Many people view truth as a restriction, a binding
        1. You can’t do this, you can’t do that
        2. It does restrict – restrict you from things which are harmful anyway
        3. What they miss is that those very restrictions give you freedom - John 8:32
    2. Breastplate of righteousness
      1. Common soldiers wore leather body armor. Those of higher ranks had chain mail. The top ranks had molded metal.
        1. Paul uses the word for the chain mail. It weighed about 15 pounds with a front and back piece.
        2. Its purpose was to protect the heart and other vital organs
      2. Righteousness is what protects our hearts
        1. What Job held to - Job 27:6
    3. Shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
      1. The Romans used studded sandals for their soldiers, much like football cleats. It gave their soldiers a firm footing during battle. And it allowed them to move quickly from one location to another.
        1. Interestingly the design made it difficult to walk backward, so the soldiers were less likely to give ground.
        2. Also since most of the armor was on the front, a soldier was not inclined to turn his back to the enemy.
      2. Our sound footing is found through the gospel of peace - Romans 10:15
        1. It is where we stand - I Corinthians 15:1
    4. The shield of faith
      1. In those days, enemies often fired arrows tipped with ignited pitch. A soldier’s breastplate might stop the arrow, but the pitch would be knocked off and set the soldier aflame.
      2. “The word Paul uses is not that for the comparatively small round shield; it is that for the great oblong shield which the heavily armed warrior wore. One of the most dangerous weapons in ancient warfare was the fiery dart. It was a dart tipped with tow dipped in pitch. The pitch-soaked tow was set alight and the dart was thrown. The great oblong shield was made of two sections of wood, glued together. When the shield was presented to the dart, the dart sank into the wood and the flame was put out. Faith can deal with the darts of temptation.” [William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, p. 183]
      3. We resist Satan through faith - I Peter 5:8-9
      4. Victory is in our faith - I John 5:4-5
    5. The helmet of salvation
      1. The Roman helmet was generally made of bronze with an iron skullcap inside that was lined with leather or cloth to pad the head.
      2. The helmet is our hope of salvation - I Thessalonians 5:8
      3. It protects our head from direct blows
        1. We cannot be moved away from our hope - Colossians 1:22-23
        2. Hold fast to our confidence and hope - Hebrews 3:6
        3. For our hope saves us - Romans 8:24
    6. The sword of the Spirit
      1. Everything mentioned so far are defensive armor. The sword is the offensive weapon
      2. Roman swords were designed for stabbing because slashing gives mostly surface wounds, but a stab can penetrate deeply to vital organs.
      3. Our weapon is the word of God - Hebrews 4:12
      4. Remember that this is a spiritual battle - II Corinthians 10:3-5
  4. Always on alert - Ephesians 6:18
    1. The best armor is useless if we are not on guard - Colossians 4:2
    2. Don’t stop. Don’t give up - I Thessalonians 5:17
    3. Watchful in our prayers - I Peter 4:7
  5. Are you prepared? Are you on alert? Are you ready to stand firm against the enemy?
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